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Atmospheric Sciences & Global Change
Newsmakers

May 2018

Washington Post, USA Today Among Media Outlets to Cover PNNL-Led Hurricane Study

With the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season officially starting June 1—and a devastating 2017 season that remains fresh in millions of minds—journalists homed in on recently published hurricane research by scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Analyzing satellite data from 1986 to 2015, PNNL oceanographer Dr. Karthik Balaguru and atmospheric scientist Dr. L. Ruby Leung, along with NOAA oceanographer Dr. Gregory R. Foltz, found that powerful hurricanes intensify more strongly and rapidly than they did 30 years ago. The Washington Post, USA Today, The Guardian, Newsweek, The Weather Channel, Gizmodo, Climate News Network, Business Insider, and CBS affiliate WCTV in Tallahassee, Florida, were among the media outlets that reported on their discovery.

Balaguru, Leung, and Foltz determined that, among several factors, a climate cycle called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) affects the temperature of the sea where hurricanes tend to build up much of their energy. Their findings appeared in a paper published by Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

"This was a surprise, that the AMO seems to be a bigger influence in rapid intensification than other factors, including overall warming," said Balaguru, the paper's lead author.

The Atlantic is preparing for a hurricane season that follows one of the most destructive lineups in history. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria all packed exceptionally strong wallops, as the maximum wind speed of those four hurricanes increased at least 25 knots (28.8 miles per hour) within 24 hours.

For more information, see the PNNL news release, "Powerful hurricanes strengthen faster now than 30 years ago."


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